[ Copied from equitymaster email on investment, as it applies to a wider horizon]
Have you ever tried to make a toddler listen when they’re cranky? Trust me, there’s no more difficult job on planet Earth. No matter how hard you try, everything will come to a naught if the kid’s mind is made up.
But what really gets my goat is when the mother comes up, indulges the kind in some sweet talk and voila, the kid is literally eating out of her hands. Instructions, any mother will tell you, never work with a child. You can never expect a child to do what you want him to do. If you really need him to comply, first, be really patient. And second, clearly spell out what’s in it for the kid. Unless the kid sees some benefit in what we are asking him to do, you’ll never get anywhere.
This makes a lot of sense. In fact, it has much wider implications. It will not only help you persuade a child but also achieve success across many walks of life. Joseph Tussman, the prolific American educator, is responsible for one of my all-time favourite quotes:
What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.
The success mantra
So, what’s the mantra for success? The idea is to find rules that tell us how the world really works and build models around them. You see, there are general principles that have consistently given the desired results going back thousands of years. These are timeless rules that can help us make better decisions.
If your principles aren’t in sync with reality, you are unlikely to be successful. All you’ll end up with is failure and frustration, like when you give instructions to recalcitrant toddler without explaining what’s in it for him.